Your Guide to Skiing in the High Country
North Carolina High Country is an oasis for outdoor adventure year-round. As the temperatures begin to drop and snow covers the mountain tops, you won’t want to miss a chance to hit the slopes. The High Country’s natural setting is perfect for ski season, typically lasting from November to March.
Where to Ski in Boone, Blowing Rock and Banner Elk
Boone, Blowing Rock and Banner Elk are is less surrounded by several mountains that are ideal for skiing and snowboarding.
Appalachian Ski Mountain
Appalachian Ski Mountain is great for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. The mountain has nine slopes, including two just for beginners. The mountain’s summit stands at 4,000 feet with a vertical drop of 365 feet. Visit one of the three terrain parks, complete with rails, boxes and tabletops, to show off your tricks and skills. The black diamond slope, designed for experienced skiers, takes you through the woods and down the mountain.
Offering views from Tennessee to Virginia, Sugar Mountain stands more than a mile high with an elevation of 5,300 feet. Sugar Mountain boasts 125 acres of terrain with 21 trails for skiing. With options for beginner, intermediate and advance skiers, Sugar Mountain also has a slope for expert skiers called WhoopDeDoo. WhoopDeDoo, North Carolina’s only double black diamond slope, sends you soaring down a mile-and-a-half long, steep drop.
With a summit of 5,505 feet, Beech Mountain is highest town in the East. A majority of Beech Mountain’s terrain is for intermediate skiers but there are also wide areas for beginners. With a vertical drop of 830 feet, the expert slope, Southern Star, is one of the most intense in the area. Freestyle skiers and snowboarders will also love the terrain park.
Elk Knob State Park
Located right outside of Boone, Elk Knob State Park boasts one of the highest peaks in North Carolina’s High Country. During winter, the state park is one of the few to stay open during more extreme weather conditions. Elk Knob State Park’s terrain is best for cross-country skiing. There is no ski rental so be sure to bring your own equipment.
There are three popular ski resorts in Boone, Appalachian Ski Mountain, Beech Mountain Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort. These locations are perfect for several winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding, tubing, ice skating and more. Booking a ski getaway at one of these resorts comes with additional perks such as group rates, lodging and access to on-site restaurants and shops.
Click here to read about ski resorts in the High Country.
Ski Schools in the High Country
If you’re new to skiing or want to brush up on your skills, attend a lesson at a nearby ski school. The three ski resorts in the High Country all have ski schools taught by trained professionals. After a quick lesson, you’ll be ready to confidently hit the slopes.
French-Swiss Ski College
Located at Appalachian Ski Mountain, French-Swiss Ski College has been providing lessons to novice skiers since 1969. Their classes range from group lessons for beginners to workshops that will challenge you. There are even private lessons for personalized, one-on-one work.
Ski & Ride School
The Ski & Ride School at Beech Mountain Resort is great for skiers ages 4 and older. Group and private lessons are available from 9:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. giving you plenty of time to squeeze in an hour to three-hour long lesson. To save on you ski lesson, visit Beech Mountain Resort in February for free beginner lessons.
Sugar Mountain Resort’s Snowsports School consists of private and group lessons, as well as ski and snowboard schools designed specifically for children. Group lessons are for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, age 8 and older. The Sugar Bear Ski School teaches skiing to children ages 5–10, while the Polar Bear Snowboard School instructs children ages 7–14.
Shopping for Ski and Snowboard Gear
Appalachian Ski Mountain, Beech Mountain Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort all feature ski rentals and on-site ski shops. Find the latest safety gear for skiing and snowboarding along with apparel and accessories to keep you warm in the freezing temperatures.
Recess Ride Shop, located in downtown Boone, has a large selection of apparel, outerwear and accessories for your ski excursion. You can also rent snowboards and get repairs made on your snowboard.
Ski Safety Tips
The National Ski Patrol (NSP) recommends that skiers and snowboarders wear a helmet when heading down the slopes. In addition to wearing helmets, the NSP has more tips to make sure you have a fun and safe time skiing and snowboarding.
- Stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people and objects
- Remember that the people ahead of you have the right of way
- Do not stop in the middle of a trail and obstruct the path
- Observe all posted warnings and signs